Don’t Always Assume Faculty Are Like Herding Cats

Faculty don’t listen. They don’t follow directions. You’ll have better luck herding cats. Many staff and administrators assume that faculty members have little concern for instructions or administrative direction. While that is sometimes the case, this assumption can often lead to unnecessary problems.

Photo credit: Elliott Bledsoe – Flickr

For anyone in administration, I want to encourage you to not assume faculty are like herding cats.

I have often told the following story when I teach faculty and academic governance. I think it epitomizes the problems when you assume faculty won’t follow direction.

The Importance of Writing Thank You Notes

One of my favorite segments on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is when he writes out his weekly thank you notes. You don’t need to be a talk show host to write notes. Thank you notes have increasingly become a lost art form. There are a few scenarios where thank you notes are still often used such as wedding gifts, high school graduation, and job interviews. Yet, outside of job interviews, handwritten thank you notes have largely gone the way of the horse drawn carriage in professional settings. As I’ve taken on more administrative work over the past couple of years, I have started writing more and more thank you notes. Writing these notes can be time consuming, but I highly recommend that you take the time to write them too.

Thank you notes can have a powerful impact on both you and the recipient. I believe there are 6 benefits from writing thank you notes.

Lessons for Higher Ed from Saved by the Bell: The College Years

Popular media portrayals of higher education play a powerful role in influencing perceptions of college. Movies and television shows set expectations for people that may never review an institutional report, visit our web site, or read our marketing materials. As faculty and administrators in higher education, we need to recognize these trends are all around us. Let’s take for example that great 90’s classic, Saved by the Bell: The College Years.

Saved by the Bell was a television show airing in the early 1990’s focusing on a group of high school students and their exploits. Following the high school version, a college sequel aired for one year in primetime following some of the students to Cal U (loosely based on Cal-Berkeley).

Higher education plays a role in many popular television shows such a The Big Bang Theory and, of course, Community. Given its nature, none may have hit on as many stereotypes as Saved by the Bell: The College Years.

The Power of Yes

Every child of the 80’s learned the importance of “Just Say No.”  Former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s campaign against drugs eventually earned pop culture status.  In today’s post, I want to discuss the power of yes.  No, I’m not advocating for illegal drug use!  I’m arguing against what I call the “default no.”

Power of Yes

When approached with a question or idea, too many faculty and staff just say no.  This is a knee-jerk reflex.  No, we can’t do that.  No, that won’t work.  No, there is a policy against it.  No, that’s not how we do things.  This is the default no.  Before giving any consideration to what is being asked or proposed, the response is simply no.

Leadership Lessons From The West Wing

One of my favorite shows of all time is the West Wing. I can’t believe it has been off the air for eight years now. President Bartlet and his team of advisors epitomized a group of hard-working, civic minded leaders that showed the best of politics and our government. The drama, the comedy, and the characters always interested me. I would still rather watch a rerun of the West Wing than just about any other show on television today.

There are also many lessons that we can learn from the West Wing besides how to walk and talk in the hallway. I’ve outlined five leadership lessons that I believe we can take away from the West Wing.